“My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27.)
Jesus’ tender words are a gift to us. Even at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, the turmoil is ever present in this world. Wars and rumors of wars have many faces. Personal difficulties, family problems, feelings of isolation or inadequacy may show their face. Families or communities against other families and communities. Nations against nations.
The recent attacks on our LDS faith by those angered by the Church’s stand on Proposition 8 shows another face of turmoil. The mounting number of lay-offs make it hard for teenagers to find holiday work, with fathers and mothers – who must support their families- losing their jobs. Mortgage foreclosures are happening at record-breaking pace. Newspapers report on teachers who abuse students, on government officials who are corrupt, and on any number of jaw dropping accounts of citizens stooping to new lows in their moral and ethical choices. Some good souls work long hard hours to make a small monthly income.
Where is the peace?
I found the answer, in part, from a beautiful little story that explains the meaning of peace. I share it below:
The Meaning of Peace
There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In it, a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture.
“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace. ”
Because we are followers of the Prince of Peace, the Savior of this world, we have access to His perfect teachings. As we apply those teachings, we invite Him more fully into our lives. On a daily basis, even dealing with great temporary difficulties, we can find rest for our souls through Him.
I used to think that everything needed to be in order so that we could be calm, peaceful, and happy. You know:
“When this happens then I’ll be so happy.”
“When that is over, everything will be calm.”
“Once we get through (whatever), then we can relax and feel peace.
One fine day it occurred to me that I should re-examine, and re-think. Rarely have I gotten easily from Point A to Point B. Hardly ever has everything “been perfectly in order” in the entire family (like- maybe a few nights, once all the children were asleep and every single person was healthy, and I would be amazed that – wow, all was well!) was doing fine. Mostly, one child or another has been in crisis – real or imagined. One or more of us is ill. There is a problem with school, with friends, with health, or with finances that affects at least one of the family members. As soon as we get through “ this” , a problem with “ that” rears its head.
There has been a profound sense of serenity come to my being as I have understood that peace and joy are not synonymous with everything being to my liking. It has more to do with my finding a nest, and thus a peace inside, even when things are going awry around me. My husband is really good at this. I have learned some good pointers from him.
Who do you know that is good at finding a spot of peace, even when the storms are brewing and the wars are roiling around you? It may be a blessing to watch and learn from them. To ask their advice, and to use it. Or – if you are one who is blessed with this talent – what a gift it would be to help another. Sometimes, when something is easier for us to do, we fail to recognize that it is a great difficulty for others to master. Sharing the small ways of finding peace in adversity could be a gift that really does keep on giving.
In times of calamity, there are principles of peace that grant joy to our souls – even when they are singed with mortal sorrows. Once we distance ourselves for hatred, vengeance, jealously – any of the feelings that would detract from having what we really want – we free up inward space to fill with Godly attributes. No matter our age or circumstance, we can do this once we set our minds to it.
The source, though, comes straight from our Father in heaven. The gift of the Holy Ghost allows us to disconnect from anger and darkness. President James E. Faust taught, at April 1989 General Conference, that “The Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world….It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls.” (Ensign, May 1989, pp.32-33.)
The spirit of Christmas is, as President Monson and others have taught, is the spirit of Christ. With Him, we can find that little nesting place even when it might otherwise seem impossible.
So if this season finds “All right with the world” for you and yours, or if this season is one of stress and pain for you, oh how I hope that there is a little nook where you may find rest. Even now , The Savior’s promises are part and parcel of the Eternal Plan. Heavenly Peace is real. It is found in and through and of the Prince of Peace.